Closed (again): Beaumont council rescinds open-facility vote

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    City of Beaumont attractions
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Dr. Qamar Arfeen

July 28, in an about-face a week after deciding to open previously closed city of Beaumont facilities that include the Sterling Pruitt activity center, various Community Centers, the Civic Center and the Event Centre that has weddings booked days out, City Council voted by majority to again shutter the community centers that could accommodate large groups contradictory to CDC guidelines to stem the transmission of COVID-19. Events have already been booked at these facilities for a soon as Aug. 1, four days after previously approved permission was rescinded.

July 21, Mayor Becky Ames and council members Audwin Samuel and Robin Mouton were outvoted by council members W.L. Pate, Taylor Neild, Mike Getz and Randy Feldschau to keep the buildings closed past Aug. 1. Pursuant to that vote, events were confirmed to proceed at multiple city venues.

Neild and Getz again voted to open the facilities at the most recent meeting. Pate offered separating the facilities to be opened, excluding the Civic Center, the Jefferson Theatre and the Julie Rogers Theatre; and modifying rules per state recommendation for the Event Centre, where weddings and receptions were to take place in the days ahead. Excluding public libraries and parks that are already open for public use in according with CDC guidelines, Feldschau this time motioned and sided with votes to close all municipal facilities in an abundance of caution due to the COVID outbreak.

“We have to make a conscious decision of what’s good for our friends and family,” Baptist Beaumont Hospital COVID-19 Lead Intensivist Dr. Qamar Arfeen suggested at the council meeting. “We have to find a new normal. And live with it.”

Beaumont Public Health Department Director Sherry Ulmer reported a “critical” condition for local hospitals taxed to the limit of space, staff and supplies as confirmed COVID cases and COVID-related hospitalizations continued to grow the week before. Dr. Arfeen took time away from the daily COVID fighting work he has headed for five months to also explain to the elected officials the seriousness of the case.

“We are here to put to you that this is a critical matter,” he said. “We are right at the brink of a health care crisis in Beaumont.”

According to Ulmer, as of July 20, the Beaumont area had confirmed 2,237 cases of COVID; by July 27, there were 2,392 confirmed positive test results.